After more than a year of lockdowns and months of sputtering vaccination campaigns, Europe’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic entered yet another difficult chapter Wednesday when President Emmanuel Macron of France announced a new set of restrictive measures in a desperate move to halt a deadly wave of infections.
The move imposed a third national lockdown, which Mr. Macron had long tried to avoid. Even so, the measures are not as strict as the national lockdown of a year ago, which kept most people indoors.
Schools and nonessential businesses will be closed across the country, travel between regions will be banned, and outdoor activities will be limited to places within six miles of home, Mr. Macron said. University students will still be allowed to attend classes one day a week.
With infections surging, hospitals crowded with patients and the virus now reaching into classrooms, Mr. Macron abandoned a gamble in which he kept France mainly open in the hope that a steady pace of vaccinations would make a lockdown unnecessary.
As the tally of coronavirus deaths relentlessly pushed close to the 100,000 mark, Mr. Macron effectively gave in to scientists and opposition politicians who have been pressing in recent weeks for a new lockdown, and added France to the list of European nations that are hunkering down again. Many of them have introduced new lockdowns in response to a wave of new cases that a slow vaccine rollout has failed to stem.
The new national restrictions take effect Saturday and will last four weeks, Mr. Macron said, adding that people who wanted to isolate themselves in a different region than where they live could still travel over the weekend to get there.
Read more: Macron announces new restrictions, putting France into a third national lockdown